Leading male Black Scoter – Point La Jolla

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – This wonderful looking seaduck was close to the top of my wishlist to spot flying by Point La Jolla! This morning the winds from the southwest had southbound bands of Surf Scoter, ten to fifteen at a time, pushed quite close to Point La Jolla. About the third flock going south had this fine looking adult male Black Scoter Melanitta americana leading the way. Easily picked out by the rich yellow colored swollen bill, it also flagged against the headwind occasionally revealing the paler underwing coloration of the flight feathers.

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male with Surf Scoters – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

Black Scoter male – Point La Jolla, 27 Jan 2013

This is the second Black Scoter that I have seen at Point La Jolla this winter. An adult female, first spotted by Jay Keller, also passed south with Surf Scoters on 18 Dec 2012. In both cases the individual Black Scoter generally seemed well placed at the front leading the flock of Surf Scoters. It makes me wonder if there is some subtle difference in flying speed or a behavioral preference of some kind which keeps this species at the front – interesting!

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Bird bounty of La Jolla Muirlands

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – The Muirlands neighborhood of La Jolla has many impressively well wooded gardens providing food and cover for myriad good birds. Streets such as El Camino Del Teatro, La Cumbre Drive, Solymar Drive, and Inspiration Drive can all be productive turning up good finds. I made several visits over the last couple weekends discovering Western Tanagers, Summer Tanager, Hermit Warbler, Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Sapsuckers, White-breasted Nuthatch, and what seems to be endless inquisitive Red-breasted Nuthatches. Another good find was a shy “Slate-colored” Fox Sparrow buried in deep cover under a hedgerow. This area is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, for example after a dawn seawatch from Point La Jolla is a good plan, by 9 am the temperatures are rising and insect activity picks up drawing out activity in the birds.

Western Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Western Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Summer Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Summer Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Summer Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Summer Tanager – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Red-breasted Sapsucker – La Jolla Muirlands 06 Jan 2013

Mountain Chickadee – La Jolla Muirlands 06 Jan 2013

White-breasted Nuthatch – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

Hermit Warbler – La Jolla Muirlands 13 Jan 2013

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The classy Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – In the last couple of years of looking at wintering ducks on Mission Bay I do not recall seeing a Canvasback Aythya valisineria before so this was quite a nice local patch find! There are many ritzy looking Redhead on the bay right now but the shape and deep chestnut head of the Canvasback is just so classy looking in my opinion. The negative tide, about minus 1.4 feet, had drawn down the water in Rose Creek substantially, and many diving and dabbling ducks had collected there milling around feeding in the shallows. I spotted this splendid male Canvasback paddling toward the bikepath bridge over Rose Creek (west terminus of North Mission Bay Drive). It looked quite edgy by itself and suddenly took off flying strongly toward the bay, but then veered directly around and flew back right over me on the bridge! I last saw it cupping its wings as it settled in to Rose Creek, just north of Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach. A tiny area of open water so it should not be difficult to relocate!

Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay 09 Jan 2013

Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay 09 Jan 2013

Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay 09 Jan 2013

Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay 09 Jan 2013

Canvasback – Rose Creek, Mission Bay 09 Jan 2013

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